Born in Aluthgama in 1902, started life as an apprentice to a carpenter at the age of
10. Then as a companion to a relative, a ballad singer and then as an assistant in a
shop. He entered the Buddhist monastic order in 1915 and by the age of twenty had
earned a reputation as a scholar in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhist philosophy.
From 1932 to 1934 he studied Buddhist art at the Shantineketan ashram of Rabindranath
Tagore in West Bengal. Returning to Ceylon he recommenced his life long work of
copying and documenting temple paintings.
In 1937 he studied Buddhist iconography and Tibetan art at Guntok on the Tibetan
A founder member of the 43 group, inspired by the French surrealists his work was quite
different from that of other members of the 43group. He broke away from this Group
to follow his own style and ideals.
Traveled and exhibited extensively on the Continent. The Smithsonian Institutions
Traveling Exhibitions Service exhibited his work in the United States in 1979.
Winner of the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1979 for journalism, literature and creative
communication. Was conferred the degree of doctor of letters Honoris Causa,
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
He passed away on the 16th of July 1982.
Manjusri had published both in Sinhala and English bringing to public knowledge the
ancient and mediaeval art of Sri Lanka. Visiting vihares and temples he
systematically documented, reproduced and traced innumerable neglected and deteriorating